Hearing spurred in part by Sun reporting on cases in city
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
Concerned that police departments nationwide fail to fully investigate rapes, a congressional committee will examine the issue next week at a hearing spurred partly by a Baltimore Sun examination of the systemic underreporting of sex crimes.
The Senate Crime and Drugs subcommittee has asked representatives of the Office of Violence Against Women to appear in Washington to discuss the problem, as well as a Pennsylvania woman jailed by police who erroneously accused her of making a false rape report.
The Sun reported in July that Baltimore for years led the nation in the percentage of rape cases in which police concluded that the victim was lying, with more than 3 in 10 cases determined to be "unfounded." Other cities have seen disturbingly high percentages of uninvestigated or dropped race cases in years past, and a women's advocate in Philadelphia pushed for the congressional hearing after the Sun's investigation reignited concerns.
The newspaper's report "made me believe that all of the issues [in other cities] were not just idiosyncratic problems, but that there is likely a chronic and systemic failure in police departments," said Carol E. Tracy, head of the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia. "I think it's important to expose it, and to encourage the federal government, which has very little jurisdiction around this, to nevertheless exercise greater accountability on the data that it does receive."
Specter to hold hearing on downgrading of rape cases